Laboratory Animals - June Issue - 281

Special Issue: Microbiota

Bacterial species to be considered
in quality assurance of mice and rats

Laboratory Animals
2019, Vol. 53(3) 281-291
! The Author(s) 2019
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DOI: 10.1177/0023677219834324
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Axel Kornerup Hansen1 , Dennis Sandris Nielsen2,
Lukasz Krych2 and Camilla Hartmann Friis Hansen1

Abstract
Bacteria are relevant in rodent quality assurance programmes if (a) the animals are at risk and (b) presence in
the animals makes a difference for animal research or welfare, for example because the agent regulates clinical
disease progression or impacts its host in other ways. Furthermore, zoonoses are relevant. Some bacterial
species internationally recommended for the health monitoring of rats and mice, that is, Citrobacter rodentium,
Corynebacterium kutscheri, Salmonella spp. and Streptococcus pneumonia, are no longer found in either laboratory or pet shop rats or mice, while there is still a real risk of impact on animal research and welfare from
Filobacterium rodentium, Clostridium piliforme, Mycoplasma spp., Helicobacter spp. and Rodentibacter spp.,
while Streptobacillus moniliformis may be considered a serious zoonotic agent in spite of a very low risk. Modern
molecular techniques have revealed that there may, depending on the research type, be equally good reasons for
knowing the colony status of some commensal bacteria that are essential for the induction of specific rodent
models, such as Alistipes spp., Akkermansia muciniphila, Bifidobacterium spp., Bacteroides fragilis, Bacteroides
vulgatus, Faecalibacterium prausnitzii, Prevotella copri and segmented filamentous bacteria. In future, research
groups should therefore consider the presence or absence of a short list of defined bacterial species relevant for
their models. This list can be tested by cost-effective sequencing or even a simple multiple polymerase chain
reaction approach, which is likely to be cost-neutral compared to more traditional screening methods.

Keywords
disease model, ethics and welfare, microorganism, organisms and models, quality assurance/control
Date received: 22 February 2018; accepted: 14 January 2019

Introduction

The FELASA pathogens

Mice and rats are quality assured by screening for the
absence of specific pathogens, for example as recommended in guidelines issued by the Federation of
European
Laboratory
Animal
Associations
(FELASA).1 However, many of those bacteria screened
for are seldom found in barrier-protected rodents,2 while
the access to modern molecular techniques has revealed
other and often non-cultivable bacteria as serious modulators of animal disease models. It has therefore been
proposed that symbiotic bacteria with an impact on
rodent models are also made part of routine quality
assurance,3 and furthermore, it has been discussed
whether some animal models, for example within
immunology, would actually be improved if the
immune system had been challenged with a more diverse
microbiota, even if this included some pathogens.4

The main objective of the most recent FELASA healthmonitoring recommendations is 'to harmonize health
monitoring programmes, which will help to improve
knowledge about the microbiological quality of animals
used in research'.1 These recommendations define the
term 'microbiological quality' as 'the occurrence of
1

Department of Veterinary and Animal Sciences, University of
Copenhagen, Denmark
2
Department of Food Science, University of Copenhagen, Denmark
Corresponding author:
Axel Kornerup Hansen, Section of Experimental Animal Models,
Department of Veterinary and Animal Sciences, Faculty of Health
and Medical Sciences, University of Copenhagen, Ridebanevej 9,
DK-1870 Frederiksberg C, Denmark.
Email: akh@sund.ku.dk


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Laboratory Animals - June Issue

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Laboratory Animals - June Issue

Contents
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